For the first time this summer, 18 Spartanburg Methodist College students participated in internship opportunities provided through Jonathan Keisler, professor of economics, and Kathleen Brown, director of the Pioneer Learning Communities (PLC) and adjunct professor of biology. The internships allowed students to get a firsthand look at careers they may be interested in pursuing.
The students received a scholarship for their internship participation through the Pioneer Learning Communities, which is a purposeful structuring of courses and activities designed to increase the chance for student success in personal, academic and professional arenas.
“The students had to apply for the scholarship,” said Brown. “Once accepted, they were responsible for creating a resume and interviewing for the internship. It’s meant to be a true job experience to prepare them for their field of choice.”
The students chosen for the scholarship had academic interests that ranged from business to architecture. Each completed 100 internship hours over the summer.
Efrain Tello interned at McMillan Pazdan Smith, an architecture firm operating in Spartanburg. “My dad has spent his career preserving old buildings and making them new,” said Tello. “I grew up seeing the transformation of old to new and am grateful to have spent time with a company that does that so well.”
Tello was involved with office business tasks and site visits to new and old projects in the field.
“A big part of this internship program is to get students thinking about their career earlier in their freshman year, which allows them to construct their curriculum to maximize their value once they hit the job market,” Keisler said. “The earlier students start building human capital that makes them more marketable in the long run, the more career success they will achieve.”
Madison Morehead had an interest in being a photographer and was accepted to Spartan Camera and Photo for her internship. What she learned turned her career choice around.
“My internship did emphasize my interest in photography, but as I consider a future career, I feel business may be a better angle,” Morehead said. She now plans to pursue a social entrepreneurship degree and open a business that gives back.
Jacob Noland interned at the SMC Pioneer Learning Communities, one of the sponsors of the summer internships. His career goal of entrepreneurship fit well with the mission of the organization.
“The outreach mission of PLC blends so closely with business and sales careers,” said Noland. “I was a new student once that was immediately welcomed by the PLC group, and I want others new to campus to feel the same way.”
Lee Li, who transferred to USC Upstate after the summer to pursue a business major, experienced the operations of nonprofit organization Ballet Spartanburg. She spent time assisting with marketing roles and performance preparation.
“I really enjoyed experiencing the business side of the organization and then watching the performances come alive,” said Li. “I got to see the full circle of business operation and how everything works together for an end goal.”
Recognizing the importance of field experience, Brown hopes to see the scholarship program continue.
“The internships provided students access to career environments so they could determine whether these fields were of real interest,” Brown said. “Academically, this gave students an idea of what they are working toward so they could understand how their education will be put to use in a concrete way. Usually students just have an abstract or conceptual view of a career and how their education may or may not be useful. Professionally, students got an opportunity to be in a work environment and see what really goes on in the particular culture of that profession.”